Should I Be Concerned My Ex Is Pulling Further Away, Or Is This Normal?

Question: Yangki, I have been reading your site for the past couple of weeks. As you can tell, I obviously still want my ex back. We had a wonderful relationship but I started to get jealous and needy and he pulled back, which made me even more needy and clingy leading to him breaking up with me. It’s been 5 months since we broke up. Our conversations are mostly light and friendly. But I feel like he is pulling farther away from me. My question is, should I be concerned that he is pulling farther away, or is this normal? My second question is, in your experience is there a certain time after which no matter what you do, you have no chance?

Yangki’s Answer: In almost every case of trying to attract back and ex there is a pull-push dynamic. This is because you have a history together and before someone comes back, they want to make sure it is safe to come back. They pull you close when they feel safe and push you away when they don’t. Sometimes you caused them to pull away and sometimes, they pull away on their own. This is normal.

But if 1) there is more pushing away than pulling close, 2) the pushing away happens too frequently or 3) the length of time they push you away (or pull away) is way much longer than the length of time you are close, it’s usually not a good sign.

It’s hard to put a timeline on how long it takes to get your ex back. There are so many factors at play e.g.

1. the emotional state of both parties;

2. other things unrelated to the relationship going on one or both people’s lives (e.g. job search, relocation, illness etc);

3. the confidence level of the person trying to get the other back. Most people operating from a place of fear, e.g. I don’t want to scare him/her away, or I don’t want to come across as needy etc, usually take much longer to get their ex back. The majority never get their ex back.

While the first three months after a break-up are the most crucial in terms of your chances of getting your ex back, hurrying back to get your ex often does not work. In cases where it does work, the relationship usually doesn’t last because you are continuing from where the old relationship ended. This is when you get the on-and-off-again type scenarios.

What I’ve noticed is that if you’ve been actively trying to get your ex back for 6 plus months and there is no progress, the chances of you getting back together are dramatically reduced. It doesn’t mean you can never get your ex back, it just means it’s harder as more time passes.

Remember the saying “time heals all wounds”? Not completely true. Time does not heal all wounds, some wounds we learn to live with. Given enough time, even an ex who still hurts, misses you and longs for you can learn to live without you.

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  • I’ll do as you say and keep contact but not tell her I love her. I’m just worried she will not know how deep my feelings for her are. The reason we broke up is she wanted me to be more involved and did not think I loved her. She also said she thought I had moved on when I did not contact her for 3 weeks.

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    • Her saying she thought you had moved on 3 weeks after breaking up, says she doesn’t trust you to be around for the long haul. Telling her how much you love her isn’t going to make her feel any more secure.

      What you should be doing is be more “involved”, whatever that means for her. My guess is doing things that show that you are building a future together.

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  • I’m one of those people who have been trying to get their ex back for more than 6 months. We’ve been broken up for a bit more than a year now, and I started trying to get him back around 9 months ago. I didn’t know what I was doing for much of that time, and I confused myself with conflicting advice. But I don’t want to give up until I’ve tried your approach, so here’s to hoping it will work out this time, and if not, here’s to hoping I will learn enough for my next relationship to work out!!

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  • Yangki, I followed your advice, kept lines of communication open and make the emotional connection in every contact. Everything was going perfectly well until two weeks ago when she started acting cold and distant toward me. I confronted her about it, she said she just wasn’t feeling what she wanted to feel for me and that the feelings go up and down each day. I asked if there was something I could change and she said no, it’s just how she feels. I then asked her if she wanted some space and she said no, she just wants some understanding. I don’t know what my next move should be.

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    • Give her what she wants… some understanding.

      As I mentioned in the book, when trying to reconcile, feelings of being in love especially in the initial stages can come and go depending on the person’s emotional landscape. Sometimes it has to do with you, and sometimes it doesn’t.

      The fact that she refused your offer to “give her space” says that she’s still invested in trying to make things work. Someone looking for a way out would have jumped at the opportunity. Don’t let your emotions get in the way.

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  • My ex and I split in 2012. We ended up merging into a longer love relationship in 2013 and beyond. It was over three years. Although, I agree with the article that the longer time goes by the harder it is, and who knows why or how my ex and I suddenly became an item again. We started back out as friends a year and a half after we initially split. We were friendly over the next year and a half and it suddenly grew intimate again. So it does happen. Each case would have to be evaluated. We certainly weren’t looking to get back together and nor did it come up. It happened without words.

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  • I applied NC successfully for 30 days and started to text him and got some very positive replies. Then he started ignoring me again, so I did two more weeks after not getting a response to my last text. I again got positive responses to texts. He never initiates any contact though. If I don’t text him for 5 days he does not reach out. I asked him if he wanted me to leave him alone and got no response. Do you think this means that he’s not interested enough in getting back together?

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    • Hard to tell since there is no genuine connection, escalation of contact or momentum.

      One thing is for sure, you’re not going to get to where he’s interested by cutting off contact, re-initiating it and cutting it off again. I wouldn’t be surprised if that’s what is making him act that way. How do you take someone with a pattern of disappearing and reappearing seriously? It’s even possible he’s imitating your pattern to get back at you.

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